Lakshadweep Protests Demand Immediate Attention: What Is Being Changed?

Lakshadweep, the land we remember as a potpourri of tropical delight, is being rocked by a single politician - Praful Khoda Patel. To get acquainted with the present conditions of the union territory, let us retrospect a little and see what the land has been going through for the past few years. 

After winning the Gujarat legislative assembly election for the Himatnagar constituency in the state of Gujarat held in 2007, Praful Patel began his political career. When BJP president Amit Shah was arrested in 2010 by the Central Beauraue of Investigation then Praful Patel, who was the first time MLA, was appointed as Minister of State for Home by Narendra Modi. 

After this, when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, he appointed Praful K Patel as the administrator of Daman and Diu union territory. Contrary to the popular tradition of appointing IAS and IPS officers as the administrators of the union territory, this was the first time that a politician was appointed as the administrator of Daman and Diu.

After that, Patel was also chosen for serving as the administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli. This step invoked controversies as people started to question their motive of appointing the same politician as the administrator of two union territories despite the availability of good and even better bureaucrats for the same.

In the year 2019, 90 homes on the seafront land were demolished in Daman and Diu for bringing progress to the land. This move leads to great protests by the locals and even the MP of Daman, Lalu Patel, requested the collector for restoration of these homes on humanitarian grounds. 

Adopting some damage control measures, Patel promised the people who have lost their homes to apply for a loan under the Prime Minister's Awas Yojana.  

After noticing the dangerous escalation of protests, section 144 was imposed and two running government schools were converted into temporary jails for detailing all the protestors.

In 2019, when the bill for merging Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu into one union territory was passed by the parliament, residents of the union territory wanted to get a statehood like Goa.

They expected to have their chief minister and a legislative assembly as they feared being governed by an appointed administrator from some other place. But, Praful K Patel was again appointed as the administrator of the newly built Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. 

Moving on to the present times, Praful Patel is now also the administrator of Lakshadweep. People living in the UT claimed that the remaining democracy too was all taken away from them.

As per the rules, now the residents were allowed to elect their officials only at the Panchayat level. Also, people who have more than 2 children would now be ineligible to contest elections in Lakshadweep. 

Eligibility for Contesting Elections

People are finding these laws a little vague as the statistics and other reports don't show any such overpopulation or population explosion problem in the union territory. Despite the problem of the population existing in the mainland states of India, there has been no such law here to date. Also, if such a rule is imposed here, then 96 out of the 303 BJP MPs would automatically be disqualified. 

The local people are allegedly saying that the government has imposed such rules in the union territory for keeping some of the prominent politicians from running in the elections of Lakshadweep. Besides this, people also blame Patel for the spread of the novel Coronavirus on their island. 

Last year, when the first wave of the Covid-19 virus had hit, there were no reported cases in Lakshadweep as the island had a very strict standard operating procedure that every person entering Lakshadweep had to first get tested and then had to spend 14 days in quarantine. But, after becoming the administrator, Praful Patel had changed these rules.

As per the new guidelines, only a negative RT-PCR test was required for people to enter these islands. This resulted in the reporting of the very first case of Coronavirus in Lakshadweep in January 2001 and today, the island has more than 6,000 cases of covid-19 in total and more than 24 deaths have been reported.

The Goondas Act

Another major decision by Patel was the introduction of the Goondas act. This act allowed the detention of any person without any public disclosure for up to one year. Just like in the case of election eligibility, this big decision didn't make any sense as the island has the least reported cases of crime when compared with the mainland states of India.

Patel has also legalized the alcohol trade in the union territory which was once banned there. Locals claim that their sheds where fisherfolk used to keep their nets and other fishing equipment were also destroyed on the pretext of following the Coast Guard Act. Also. the residents fear privatization of the lands of Lakshadweep. 

Written By - Devyani Roy

Edited By - Akanksha Sharma

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